The Migrant Rights Centre has called for the introduction of statutory guidelines for the au pair industry.

It follows research from the centre that shows over a third of au pairs surveyed said they felt they were being exploited.

The centre surveyed 53 au pairs over a five month period.

The findings show that in some cases au pairs are being used as a cheap form of childcare.

Those who carried out the research acknowledge the sample size is small but say the findings are worrying.

The survey shows 36% reported being exploited, 42% had no written contract and 30% reported not getting any holidays.

The centre said the Government should establish industry standards to protect au pairs and clearly define what an au pair’s responsibilities are.

The Department for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation said it has no plans to introduce legislation in the area but said individual complaints can be taken to the National Employment Rights Authority.